EURO 2012: Tafatt och ynkligt

This illustrates my heading and the impression that some of the teams have given

I clearly need to explain this heading. It is John Ryan’s fault… He cannot follow the web casts live but one or two days late, at which time he wants to be unaware of the results. But both of us get automatic e-mail where our headings of posted articles are shown. So I figured that I needed to use Swedish to avoid ruining things for the poor guy… So if you now wonder what the two words in the heading mean, the answer is roughly ‘helpless and meek’! Unfortunately, several of the games yesterday and today made me feel that this was a good way of describing many players or entire teams. Yes, the games were in some cases close in terms of result, but the quality was not much to boast with.

The first ones who come to mind in deserving my description were the French team and many of its stars and veteran players. Sooner or later it had to happen that their impressive string of gold medal performances would come to an end but, please, not in this way! In the end they seemed lethargic and indeed helpless today against Croatia, just like against Hungary earlier. And it did not have to happen. During the middle of the game they seemed to turn it around and had a three-goal lead after a weak start. But when it mattered at the end, they just collapsed and seemed to give up. There was even open quarreling between coach Onesta and some of his key players.

The Swedes do not this time have a team of the same caliber as in their periods of greatness or even like one year ago. So perhaps they could not do much better. But what is frustrating to see is the lack of initiative, determination and fighting spirit. Serbia was a tough opponent yesterday, but the Swedes did not manage to put up a real fight. And a bit of the same was noticeable today with the Icelandic team. Despite some good efforts by the likes of Gustavsson and Palmarsson, there was no real team cohesiveness and no spark. Can it be that teams which already have an Olympic qualifying slot secured do not really manage to get up for the final games of a European Championship when they seem to be out of contention for the medals??

And then came today’s puzzling performance by the Hungarians, another team with a place secured in the Olympic qualifying, But today they had a chance to put themselves in a good position to gain a semifinal slot. And nevertheless, they did not get anywhere near the level that they have showed in some of the previous games. They are really like the ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ team of this tournament. Quite generally, it also makes you start wondering about a general lack of impact from the coaches during the games. These are, for the most part, well-known and highly paid coaches who should have the skills and the experiences to make major adjustments during a game and, at least, to ensure that their players are sufficiently motivated and up for the game.

So having sounded so negative until this point, let me conclude on a more positive note or two. We have seen a number of very close games and the spirit on the court in terms of sportsmanship and a general avoidance of dangerous fouls and provocations has been noticeable. The players are often showing a good deal of respect for each other, the coaches are for the most part on a good behavior, and the referees have contributed in a constructive way. They have generally been consistent and able to draw the line in the right place. Let us now hope for a thrilling finish of EURO2012 with a continuation of the good sportsmanship!